9 Essential Hammock Knots To Know For Your Next Camping Trip

Tying knots for hammock camping doesn’t have to be an impossible task. Our detailed guide will give you all the information you need to become a veritable knot guru.

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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Love ‘em or hate ‘em, knots are an essential part of any hammocking adventure. In fact, setting up a hammock for camping or relaxation requires a solid working knowledge of a number of different knots.

If tying knots to hang a hammock makes you a bit nervous, have no fear, we’re here to help. Coming up, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of tying 9 essential knots. That way, your next hammock camping trip can get off without a “hitch”.

Knot Basics & Terminology

Before we dive into the wonderful world of knots for hammock hanging, let’s discuss the basics of knots to ensure we’re all on the same page.

Knots for Camping with Hammocks 101

If you spend enough time in the great outdoors, at some point, you’ll need to learn how to tie some knots. The good news is that knot tying isn’t as complicated as it might seem. 

However, climbers, sailors, and other knot-tying enthusiasts love their fancy jargon. So, it’s important that you know what we’re talking about before we talk about the tying process. 

hanging a hammock

In fact, there are actually 3 different types of hammock knots that you ought to know:

  • Knots: Anything that can be tied in rope or webbing without the need for other materials, like stakes or poles, to support their structure. Examples include the bowline and the figure 8.
  • Hitches: Knots that need to be tied around another object, like a tree, carabiner, or stake. Examples include the half hitch and girth hitch.
  • Bends: The result of tying 2 pieces of rope or webbing together. Can either be used to form a circle of webbing/rope or to tie 2 separate pieces of rope together. Examples include the sheet bend and the figure 8 bend.

That being said, it really doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference what you call your various knots. But you’ll sound cool to people ‘in the know’ if you use the right terms and it’s important to be familiar with this jargon before we get started.

Further reading: If you want to simplify things, then upgrade your setup with a set of hammock straps.

Key Knot Terminology

Finally, before we talk about how to tie knots for hanging a hammock, we need to settle on some definitions for a few confusing terms, such as:

  • Bight: A curved or bent section of rope that forms a U-shape.
  • Loop: Similar to a bight, but occurs when the two strands that form a bight cross at the bottom.
  • Working End: The part of the rope, line, or webbing that you’re actively using to tie a knot.
  • Standing End: The other part of a line that you’re not using for tying. Also called the free end or the lagging end.
  • Tail: What’s left of the working end after you finish tying a knot. Also called excess rope. Sometimes used interchangeably to mean the standing end.
tying knots into nylon webbing for hanging hammock

9 Need-To-Know Hammock Knots & Hitches

Without further ado, here are 9 must-know knots and hitches to use when you tie your hammock:

1. Girth Hitch

An easy-to-tie option for looping a strap or rope around the tree that’s supporting your hammock, the girth hitch is a must-know for all hammockers. 

It’s also very simple to untie, even after it’s been subject to heavy loads. The girth hitch is often used to attach hammocks and their straps to trees. Plus, you can also use it to attach a mosquito net to a ridgeline to keep bugs at bay while camping.

How To Tie A Girth Hitch Knot

  1. Create a loop in the middle of your rope or strap. This is the working end of the rope.
  2. Hold the loop in your right hand and the standing end in your left hand.
  3. Pass the loop behind the tree.
  4. Take the standing end of the rope and pass it through the loop.
  5. Congrats, you have a girth hitch!

2. Overhand On A Bight

Also called an overhand loop, an overhand on a bight is an excellent option if you want to create an attachment point for carabiners and J-hooks. This knot is also relatively easy to untie after being weighted, so it’s a solid all-around choice for hammocking.

How To Tie An Overhand On A Bight

  1. Create a bight out of a length of rope that’s about 12 to 14” from the standing end.
  2. While holding the bight in one hand, wrap the bight once around the standing end of the rope to make a loop.
  3. Thread the bight through the loop you created in step 2.
  4. Tighten the knot by holding the bight in one hand while pulling on each strand.

3. Figure 8 On A Bight

A fancier alternative to the overhand on a bight knot, the figure 8 on a bight is essentially the same knot, but with an extra twist in the rope. 

Both the figure 8 and overhand on a bight serve the same purpose, though the figure 8 is easier to untie after being loaded. Thus, the figure 8 on a bight is a better choice for heavy load situations, like creating attachment points for hanging a hammock.

How To Tie A Figure 8 On A Bight

  1. Create a bight out of a length of rope that’s about 16 to 20” from the standing end.
  2. While holding the bight in one hand, wrap the bight twice around the standing end of the rope to make a loop with two twists.
  3. Thread the bight end through the loop you created in step 2.
  4. Tighten the knot by holding the bight in one hand while pulling on each strand with your other hand.

4. Clove Hitch Knot

One of the best knots out there, the clove hitch is an easy-to-tie and versatile option for nearly every situation. It is essentially made up of two half-hitches, so you can tie it in a matter of seconds.

You can use the clove hitch to anchor guylines on your hammock tarp or you can use it to create a ridgeline. Furthermore, clove hitches are a superb way to attach ropes to a carabiner. This is especially true if you think you’ll want to adjust the length or tautness of your rope somewhere down the line.

How To Tie A Clove Hitch

  1. Hold the leading end of your rope and wrap the rope around a carabiner, tree, or stake to create a single turn of the rope.
  2. Take the tail and pass it once again around your object to create a second turn.
  3. Thread the tail under itself to complete the hitch.
  4. Pull on both ends of the rope to tighten the hitch.

5. Bowline Knot

Perhaps the best-known knot, the bowline is a mainstay of sailors and climbers everywhere. With the bowline, you can anchor a rope to an object (such as a tree) or create a loop for attaching a carabiner.

How To Tie A Bowline Knot

  1. Take the working end of the rope and use it to create a loop, leaving 10 to 12” of the tail end to work with. 
  2. Pass the tail through the first loop that you made in step 1. This will make a second, smaller loop.
  3. Thread the tail through the loop you made in step 2.
  4. Pull each of the strands of the knot until they are tight.

6. Taut Line Hitch Knot

Sometimes called a midshipman’s hitch or tent hitch, the taut line hitch is a fantastic way to tighten a guyline. Alternatively, you can use a taut line hitch to create a taut ridgeline for your tarp.

How To Tie A Taut Line Hitch

  1. Wrap the working end around a tree or stake.
  2. Take the working and wrap it around the standing end two times, wrapping the rope upward toward the tree or stake.
  3. Pass the working end under the two wraps that you made in step 2 so that the tail is pointing away from the tree or stake.
  4. Wrap the tail once more around the standing end.
  5. Pass the rope back through the loop you created in step 4.
  6. Slide the hitch up or down the rope to tighten your guyline or ridgeline.

7. Double Fisherman’s Knot

If you want to tie 2 lengths of rope together, the double fisherman’s knot is a solid choice. As a bend, the double fisherman’s is very reliable and is unlikely to come untied. However, it can be tricky to untie after being loaded with a heavy weight, like a human.

How To Tie A Double Fisherman’s

  1. Hold the tails of both ropes that you’d like to tie together so that the ends overlap by around 16 to 18”.
  2. Take the tail of the rope on your right and wrap it twice around the standing end of the left-hand rope to create a double overhand stopper knot.
  3. Repeat this process using the rope on your left.
  4. Pull the end of each rope, one end at a time, to tighten the two knots.

8. Water Knot

An alternative to the double fisherman’s that’s easier to untie after being loaded, the water knot (actually a bend) is a great choice for hammocking. That said, it’s better for use with webbing than with rope.

How To Tie A Water Knot

  1. Create an overhand knot in one of your pieces of webbing, leaving about 5 to 8 inches of tail.
  2. Trace the path of the overhand that you made in step 1 using the other piece of webbing. Make sure that you avoid twisting the webbing as you tie. Ideally, the webbing strands should be parallel to each other at all times.
  3. Pull all of the strands of webbing tight to finish the bend.

9. Square Knot

Last but not least, the square knot (technically a bend) is a must-know for any outdoor enthusiast. It can be used to attach two pieces of line together for non-load-bearing purposes. For example, you could use it to lash your hammock sleeping pad to your backpack each morning.

However, since it can easily come undone—even when tied correctly—we do not recommend using this technique in any load-bearing situation.

How To Tie A Square Knot

  1. Cross one tail end of the rope over the other.
  2. Take the other tail end and cross it over the first tail end.
  3. Tighten both ends of rope to finish the bend. It’s as quick as that!

RELATED: No trees? No problem. Learn how to hang a hammock without trees

Pitch Your Hammock Perfectly With These Essential Knots

Learning how to tie knots for hanging a hammock doesn’t have to be an insurmountable challenge. Now that you’ve learned all these great knots for hammock camping, all it takes is a little practice!

Let us know which one you found most useful in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to share this article with your friends so you can all perfect your hammock knot-tying abilities. See you in the mountains!

Last update on 2023-10-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Gaby Avatar

Gaby is a professional polar guide, wilderness medicine instructor, and freelance writer with a master’s degree in outdoor education. She splits her time between the northern and southern hemispheres, chasing the midnight sun and helping others get outside to experience some of the world’s most beautiful places.

As an outdoor educator, Gaby is passionate about making the outdoors as accessible as possible for anyone looking to get into the mountains or out on the water. She is a certified Polar Guide, an AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor Course Provider, a NOLS instructor, and an accomplished climbing guide with a penchant for telemark skiing.

When she’s not hanging out with penguins in Antarctica or scouting for polar bears in the Arctic, you can find Gaby backpacking in Wyoming’s Wind River Range or drinking debatably excessive amounts of espresso and reading French existentialism in a quirky café.

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